Seven Years by Mary Beth

April 29, 2013

Shortly after midnight on Saturday my daughter and her friend gave me this beautiful card case to hold my business cards.


Sunday was my seven year anniversary as a Breast Cancer Survivor. On Friday, I ordered a cake for myself to celebrate this day.  I don’t really drink, I don’t do drugs and I have never smoked and I still got cancer… so yes I eat sugar.


I asked my closest friend in California, (who was literally the first person to hear the news as the Doctor called me at work) to come over and celebrate with me.

The day started out a little later than I had planned, I was running late for church and the chapel that I attend is very small and difficult to sneak in late. I decided to go to the church that we belonged to when we first moved here (and during my treatment) as their mass starts 15 minutes later. This parish had been talking and planning and raising money to build a new church when we became members. I do believe things happen for a reason and as I sat in the church I became very reflective on the past 7 years. I sat in the old church and prayed to heal and survive when I was sick. Now 7 years later I sat in this new church and so thankful that I am still here.
Cancer changed my life forever, not all bad, but changed nonetheless. I am healed on the outside, but sometimes the emotional side still creeps up on me. A few months back I had a “touch-up” procedure done. Before I left work for the appointment I looked at myself in the mirror and thought outwardly, most people that I meet now, have no idea that I am a cancer survivor. My hair has grown in and they can’t tell that it is much thinner than before. My eyebrows and my eyelashes have grown back and my eyelashes hold mascara again. My scars are not visible when I am dressed. People cannot see the effects of the aromatase inhibitors. But as I lay on the table with the greatest leopard hospital gown on… the tears started streaming down my face. I was back 7 years ago as they wheeled me into the operating room to remove a part of my body. I have learned we must allow ourselves to honor these moments as part of the healing process too.


Today the tears streamed down my face again, so many emotions. Happiness that I am still here, gratefulness for all of the people that supported, prayed and helped me. Sadness for many of the people that I met because of the cancer that are not here anymore. I wrote and delivered a note to another close friend at that time, who had helped me with the kids. Our lives have now taken us in different directions. I sent a thank you text to Lou for supporting me during my treatment. We were close to divorcing in 2006 and then I was diagnosed. We decided to stay together. We tried for another 5 years, but it just was not meant to be.
After honoring those few moments of tears and emotions I was off to enjoy my day. I walked my favorite island and visited my friend who is still recovering from a freak illness. He congratulated me and then asked “did you think you would be sitting here 7 years later?” “Honestly, I was not sure, but my Doctors were.” was my response. They told me it would be 12-18 months of hell and then I would have a greater risk driving on the freeways.


I treated myself to one of my favorite childhood candies while relaxing for a pedicure.


My friend and her daughter came over and we celebrated our friendship… and the girls ate CAKE!


The only part missing in the day was seeing my Dante. This was his weekend with his Dad and his future Step-Mother. Other than that…
I am a survivor.
I am alive.
I have so many amazing people in my life that care about me.
It was a great day.

cross-posted at marybethvolpini

A Husband’s Love

March 2, 2013

I was contacted through my personal blog by Cameron, a husband who became a caregiver to his wife, who like all of us who blog here became very ill.  He asked me to post his short story, and here it is.

Cameron’s Story:


Coming Face to Face with Reality

The gift of life is fragile and few may realize just how precious it can be. On November 21 of 2005, my life changed forever as it was the day that I had found out my wife Heather had malignant pleural mesothelioma. I went from husband and father to now a caregiver. Heather and I had just celebrated the birth of our daughter Lily several months before and had been planning our first holiday together as a family when our lives were turned upside down.

I was thrown into my new role as caregiver immediately. Our physician informed us about mesothelioma and what it entailed. He also gave us an assortment of treatment options, and I had to guide Heather toward making the first of many decisions. We ventured off to Boston to see Dr. David Sugarbaker, a doctor who specialized in mesothelioma.  This began a long a difficult journey to rid Heather of her cancer.

The months that followed were a blur as our normal routines turned into chaos. Heather and I had held full-time positions before she was diagnosed with the disease. As we began our battle together, Heather could no longer work, and I could only work part-time in order to care for her and Lily. We were kept busy with physician appointments, traveling back and forth from Boston and taking care of our daughter Lily. My list of duties exceeded my ability to get things done, and I quickly became overwhelmed with responsibilities. I was kept awake by endless worry. What if Heather died? Would we be able to stay afloat financially? Would I end up a broke widower with a young child to care for? Feelings of helplessness overcame me on many occasions, and I had to find strength within myself to stay positive for my family. Not only did I want to fight for Heather and be her rock, I needed to be just as strong for our daughter Lily.

Heather and I had a wealth of family and friends who helped us every step of the way with everything from words of encouragement to monetary assistance. Going through a difficult ordeal such as fighting cancer is painful and if anyone is kind enough to offer their assistance, you need to take them up on it. I learned the hard way that there is no room for pride or stubbornness in a battle with cancer.

The job of a caregiver to someone with cancer has an endless supply of highs and lows. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to others in my position is to never give up hope. There will be difficult moments, but you have to remember to dig deep and use every ounce of strength you have to remain positive.

Heather went through mesothelioma surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to fight mesothelioma and despite the odds, she was fortunate to conquer this horrendous disease. It has been seven years since her initial diagnosis, and I’m proud to say that she is cancer free today.

I was taught courage, strength and how to balance chaos throughout this ordeal, and I chose to go back to school full-time to study Information Technology. I graduated with honors and was chosen to speak at my graduating class. I relayed to my fellow classmates my difficult struggles and the importance of believing in themselves. No matter what life deals your way, you should never give up hope, and always keep fighting for the ones you love.  


Thank you Cameron for loving your wife, and for taking on the very challenging position of caregiver as we here understand what a tough job it can be. 


Mother with Cancer Lost Child Custody passes

November 28, 2012

Mother with cancer who lost custody of her children due to her cancer has lost her life.

“Legal and Ethical Issues for Healthcare Providers” textbook sites Alaina Giordano’s children taken away by her estranged husband and a Judge because she was diagnosed Stage 4.





Roll Call

November 27, 2012

Lets get everyone to do a roll call….  Holiday check in!

I’m good.  Healthy.

My mom is dying…  lung cancer/emphysema.

I’m missing my MWC friends…  particularly Susan.  Her passing took all the air from my sails.

Anyone else?

Shirley Temple child star mother with cancer diplomat : 1st Celebrity to admit mastectomy

October 24, 2012

Shirley Temple Black child star mother with cancer ::

1st Celebrity to announce she had a mastectomy ::

“the surgery is no longer regarded as shameful and secret”

i found this book in the palo alto children’s library today.

i’m so grateful to shirley 


(click images to read Shirley’s story please)